Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why a Major in International Entrepreneurship might not have been so off-the-wall

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I ran across this article today and thought, Hmm, looks like people with expertise in international entrepreneurship could be in high demand in the near future - right here in the U.S.  

I discovered during my first year abroad (in Belgium in 2006-07) that I wanted to work in an international environment, and I wanted to do something that embraced and promoted the entrepreneurial spirit.  It's no wonder these objectives led me to Belmont, where I was all too excited to find out that I had the opportunity to actually create a one-of-a-kind personal major, tailored precisely to my research and career interests.  I decided right off the bat that my eventual goal would be to open a business consulting firm catering to small- and medium-sized enterprises with high growth potential and the desire to expand internationally.  The fun I see in this is a perpetual game of "connecting the dots" -- across borders, languages, cultures, and different markets' needs. 

What I didn't realize was that it might not be so much about exporting goods as it could be about importing entrepreneurs If this "U.S. Startup Visa" pans out, who is going to educate the foreign entrepreneurs that are queuing up, undoubtedly ready to rush our borders? Who will know enough about how the system works in their countries of origin, so as to be able to best explain the major differences in how we do things here in the U.S.?  Who will these aspiring business owners turn to when they have questions about business terminology? -- anyone who's studied a foreign language knows that there are lots of  "false friends" (words in language A that look or sound the same as words or constructs in language B, but actually represent quite different concepts) and these can be exceptionally deceptive once you start navigating the business and financial lexicons.  

With a lot of research and continued travel & language study, I'm hoping to get on the front end of this new trend and be ready when the entrepreneurial expats come flooding in.  Navigating a new country and culture is hard enough as an individual. Pair that with the pressure of meeting all the alleged seed capital, investment, and sales thresholds required to keep your visa (see the article for vague details), and the uncertainty of starting a new business skyrockets. If someone offered to guide you through that process, ultimately allowing you and your family to maintain residence in the U.S. and even profit from a private enterprise, how (and how much) would you be willing to compensate that business coach when your new company gets off the ground and starts seeing success?  

No really. I'm curious. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me: shiraheden(at)gmail(dot)com 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Don't Want to Follow Directions from a Jumbotron!

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Every September I help out with the International Student Retreat for Belmont's incoming exchange students.  The relationships I've built with our international students have been some of the most rewarding and enriching of my college career, and I am always amazed at how much I learn from them every day -- not only about their countries and cultures, but about my own as well.  Their observations and remarks about American life; the things they find strange or downright weird; their stories (of both horror and joy) -- they crack me up and provoke some intense reflection on our own beliefs and habits here in America.

Belmont International Student Retreat 2011





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